Community activist and event organizer Brandon Lamar had a vision to bring the many generations of Pasadena’s Black community together to talk about how collectively they could work to build a better and stronger Pasadena.
On Saturday, April 1, that vision became a reality when almost 200 community residents of every age group poured into the Alkebulan Cultural Center on N. Raymond Avenue to work together, share insight and provide perspective in an effort to merge to various generations together.
Lamar opened the program by explaining to the audience that the meeting was intended to be a “living room” conversation. Reflecting on his own youth and how his grandmother, a community pastor, would host various members of the community in the often “off limits” living room to discuss issues that would not only better the attendees lives, but also was in the best interest of the entire community,
Lamar said, “When strength and wisdom collide, we can preserve our culture and history.” Well, that is exactly what happened Saturday night when representatives from Generation Z (1997-2010), Millennials (1981-1996), Generation X (1965-1980), Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and The Silent Generation (1928-1945) all came together to share stories, experience, perspective and wisdom to help address the quickly diminishing Black population in Pasadena as well as focus on the needs and concerns moving forward.
“Today was designed to address and begin to find resolutions to the many issues facing the residents of Pasadena” said Lena Kennedy, who worked with Lamar to help organize the discussion. The meeting topics included the education system, law enforcement, home ownership, business ownership, a spotlight on community nonprofits and community advocacy.
Some of the featured speakers included high school students Noah Decuir and Enija Lopez from Generation Z, California Assembly candidate and former Pasadena Deputy Chief Dr. Phlunte Riddle, former Pasadena Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny, Pasadena School Board President Michelle Richardson Bailey, School Board Member Patrice Marshall-McKenzie, Joe Hanks of Brick City Boxing, and Juanita West Tillman.
Lamar was proud of the day’s events and promised that this was only the first of many discussions that he hopes will only expand the conversation and bring more knowledge and opportunities to the residents of Pasadena, both young and old.
Freeny, the first Black president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, said, “This event gives me great hope and is a demonstration of the collective power we can have when we call come together united for a better community.” Freeny also said that he was extremely proud of Brandon Lamar and his efforts and vision for bringing this event together.
“Brandon had a vision and when he told me about it, I couldn’t help but commit to being a part of it. But what he brought together was far beyond what I ever envisioned. Look at this room, it’s packed,” stated Freeny.
A special guest of the evening was newly appointed Pasadena Police Chief Eugene Harris, who was proud to attend the event and talked about his vision for ensuring that the Pasadena Police Department worked with the community and committed to always making himself available for events like MERGE and other community based events and programs in the city.